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How to protect yourself against pneumonia

Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under the age of five and among the most common cold weather diseases that children are likely to develop.
Every year on November 12, people worldwide mark World Pneumonia Day. The day aims to raise awareness about pneumonia, to promote interventions to protect people against it, and to generate action to combat pneumonia.
According to the World Health Organisation, pneumonia is one of the most solvable problems in global health and yet a child dies from the infection every 20 seconds, making it the single biggest killer of children worldwide.

A health worker vaccinates a child against pneumonia.

Just having a little knowledge and awareness can help people catch it early before it becomes fatal.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can make you very ill and in some cases can be fatal. Early symptoms are a cough or fever and you may have a hard time breathing. For most people, pneumonia can be treated at home and it often clears up in 2 to 3 weeks. But the elderly, babies and people suffering from other medical conditions have a higher risk of being hospitalised.
You can contract pneumonia at any time, either at school or at work. This is called community-associated pneumonia. You can also get it when you are in a hospital or nursing home. This is called healthcare-associated pneumonia. It may be more severe because you are already ill.
There are both bacterial and viral strains of pneumonia.
You can catch pneumonia by breathing in germs into your lungs. You may be more likely to get the disease after having a cold or the flu, which can make you more vulnerable. Having a long-term or chronic disease like asthma, heart disease, cancer or diabetes can also make you more susceptible.
Symptoms of pneumonia caused by bacteria usually come on quickly. You will likely cough up mucus from your lungs, which may be rust coloured, green or tinged with blood. You will also likely develop a fever, experience rapid breathing, feel short of breath or suffer from chills. Chest pain can also occur which hurts when you cough or breathe in. People suffering from pneumonia also feel very tired or very weak. They may feel nauseous and might suffer from diarrhoea.
These mild symptoms are referred to as having “walking pneumonia”.
The elderly may have different, fewer, or milder symptoms. The main sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how they think.
Symptoms caused by viruses are the same as those caused by bacteria but they may manifest themselves more slowly and be less evident.
Vaccination is the best way to help protect against pneumonia and people in high risk groups should be vaccinated.
Pediatricians advise adults and elderly people to engage in regular exercise, to build a stronger immune system to ward off the common cold, flu and coughs. Eating nutritious food is also necessary to stay healthy.
Parents must take good care of their children when the temperature drops, making sure they have warm clothing. Breastfeeding is also an effective way to protect infants from infections.
Today in Laos, pneumonia vaccination is part of the National Centre for Mother and Child Health’s Expanded Programme of Immunisation.It is estimated that around 180,000 Lao children annually receive vaccines against pneumonia under the programme.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update November 11, 2017)

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